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JONES v. TOWNSHIP OF NORTH BERGEN

September 30, 1971

Charlotte JONES et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
The TOWNSHIP OF NORTH BERGEN et al., Defendants


Shaw, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: SHAW

Plaintiffs bring this action as a class action pursuant to Rule 23 F.R. Civ. P. on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated in the Township of North Bergen, Hudson County, New Jersey. It is alleged that each of plaintiffs is a residential home owner in the Township of North Bergen and that local tax assessments upon their properties have been discriminatory, arbitrary, capricious and unlawful. They seek injunctive and other related relief which would bar the defendants from continuance of prevailing methods of assessment and from levy and collection of taxes assessed against individual properties of each of plaintiffs and of all other residential home owners who are part of the class which plaintiffs allege they represent. Subject matter jurisdiction is alleged to exist by virtue of 28 U.S.C. § 1331(a) (federal question) and 28 U.S.C. § 1343(3) (civil rights.) See also 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

 The gist of plaintiffs' grievances in terms of alleged federal jurisdiction is that they are being deprived of property without due process of law contrary to the Fourteenth Amendment and in violation of the New Jersey State Constitution and further that the assessments and enforcement thereof deprive them of equal protection under the laws because of the discriminatory nature thereof. The detailed relief which plaintiffs seek is set forth in the Complaint as follows:

 
(a) That the defendants be enjoined from levying or collecting additional taxes from property owned by the plaintiffs and the class which they represent, until such time as new assessments are made and approved by this Court as correcting the injustices complained of herein.
 
(b) That the defendants, Angelo J. Sarubbi, Joseph J. Jialdini, Charles J. Steinel, Charles J. Weaver, George E. Burger and Robert White be directed to take all steps necessary to review all assessments of all property in the Township of North Bergen, and to readjust such assessments so as to remedy the injustices complained of herein.
 
(c) That defendants, Joseph Rubinstein, Realty Appraisal Co., Louis E. Della Torre, Edward D. Grosso, and Robert White account for and pay over to the Treasury of the Township of North Bergen, all funds received for assessment services.
 
(e) That defendants be required to pay to plaintiffs the cost of this action, including their attorneys' fees.
 
(f) That plaintiffs have such other and further relief as is just and proper.

 There is a threshold question of subject matter jurisdiction. The federal statutory provisions above cited provide:

 
(a) The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions wherein the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $10,000, exclusive of interest and costs, and arises under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States. 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
 
The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of any civil action authorized by law to be commenced by any person:
 
* * *
 
(3) To redress the deprivation under color of any State law, statute, ordinance, regulation, custom or usage, of any right, privilege or immunity secured by the Constitution of the United States or by any Act of Congress providing for equal rights of citizens or of all persons ...

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